Must-See Movie Opens March 21: God’s Not Dead | Ratio Christi

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Must-See Movie Opens March 21: God’s Not Dead | Ratio Christi: “Must-See Movie Opens March 21: God’s Not Dead ”

I saw the movie in a pre-screening several weeks ago, and I can only tell you that it’s very, very good. I recommend it highly.

I’ve been asked whether it resorts to cheap or cheesy plot manipulations, and whether the circumstances portrayed in the trailer are realistic. I’ve addressed both of those questions in a BreakPoint article that should appear later today (now up here). When it does I’ll link to it from here. The short answer is that it’s authentic on both counts.

You might be interested to know that the trailer covers only one of several interweaving plot lines. I’ve tagged this blog post “persecution.” That topic applies even more to another sub-plot than it does to the main one. I’ll let you see the film to find out what that’s about. Don’t miss it!

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151 Responses to “ Must-See Movie Opens March 21: God’s Not Dead | Ratio Christi ”

  1. Tell me there’s an eagle named Small Government or that the student’s name is Albert Einstein and I’ll pre-order tickets for my entire D&D group.

  2. That’s a fine question, and it doesn’t bother that you would ask it. The way to discover the answer is not by making stereotyped assumptions but by seeing the movie.

  3. Tom, even if I were stereotyping, that would not defend the film from the charge of stereotyping. We could both be guilty, no?

    I’d like to see more of an active defense of the film than a deflection of ‘anyone who expresses reservations about it is biased’. Arguing that ‘many professors admit to not liking Christianity’ is not the same thing as ‘professors commonly denigrate Christianity and Christian students in the classroom’.

    I’ve noted in the past that very few Christians are like the Westboro schmucks. What’s the case for a widespread converse problem of atheist professors haranguing students in class about the death of God in public schools? (Private schools can do what they like.)

  4. What’s to defend in the film, Ray? Tell me what stereotypes you find in it. Have you seen it? Do you have a specific charge to bring against it? Do you know what biases it presents?

    I didn’t say anyone who expresses reservations about it is biased. I said you might be stereotyping for concluding that the professor looks like the one in all those forwarded emails.

    Please note: one who concludes that the professor looks like the one in all those forwarded emails is not equivalent to anyone who expresses reservations about it.

    You placed quotation marks around things I have supposedly argued, which in fact you made up yourself.

    You’ve put words falsely in my mouth. I’d like you to acknowledge that with an apology.

    You drew your conclusion about what “the professor looks like” without having any information to support that inference. Now you’ve come back and pressed me on it without showing the slightest sign of having read the article I linked to. This latest comment of yours is nothing more than a smoke-bomb and a misrepresentation of what I’ve said.

    What is your purpose here, anyway?

  5. Come on Tom, you know why Ray is here. Ray is here to stand tall against the coming theocracy and this movie is just another part of that insidious plan.

  6. Ray, I have an impression that this morning when you arrived at work, you were probably guilty of negatively stereotyping Christianity.

    How do I conclude that?

    The same way you concluded this film may very likely be guilty of stereotyping. I know it based on absolutely no relevant information whatsoever.

    But since I know what you’ve said about Christianity in some contexts, why wouldn’t I expect you to say it in others? Therefore I think it’s very likely you stereotyped Christianity negatively at work this morning.

    (No, actually, I didn’t conclude that. I know better. I hope the point is clear enough, however.)

  7. I can sympathize with the position orthodox Christians are put into, wanting to hold onto their faith tradition and still maintain a place in a culture that can be hostile to their beliefs. It’s not always easy for atheists to fit in, either, though, and yet another portrayal of the angry atheist stereotype–and based on the trailers and several reviews, I have no reason to believe the Sorbo character is anything but that–isn’t going to help.

    I’m glad that there are movies like this that will benefit Christians. It’s just kind of a bummer it has to be at the expense of atheists. And because I know someone here will turn that back on me, I don’t support films like Bill Maher’s Religulous either.

    I’d love for there to be another Collision (the Hitchens/Wilson documentary), where you can see an exchange of ideas without one side trying to get one over on the other. Maybe a Bill Craig and Quentin Smith buddy-cop romp?

  8. What’s to defend in the film, Ray? … You drew your conclusion about what “the professor looks like” without having any information to support that inference.

    Um… I very specifically stated (in the very first words of my comment) that my impressions were based on “The trailer” (exact quote, note double-quotes, more below). If the trailer does not accurately represent the movie, then that’s a different problem.

    You placed quotation marks around things I have supposedly argued, which in fact you made up yourself.

    I placed single quotes around paraphrased passages, a practice very common on the Internet. I’m very careful about that; double-quotes for direct quotations, single-quotes for paraphrases or summations. If that was unclear to anyone, I apologize, for that was not my intention. I’ll avoid that on this site in the future.

    Now you’ve come back and pressed me on it without showing the slightest sign of having read the article I linked to.

    That’s exactly where the many professors admit to not liking Christianity came from.

    What is your purpose here, anyway?

    To point out that the trailer gives the impression of a very stereotyped film.

  9. Kyle,

    I know that Christians get the rap that they are too sensitive about their treatment in the society in general and maybe that’s true. But college campuses have become legitimately difficult places for a lot of viewpoints that differ from the accepted norm. It’s gotten to be pretty well established that letting people know you’re politically conservative will get you socially ostracized. Born again Christians fair no better.

  10. Tom –

    The same way you concluded this film may very likely be guilty of stereotyping.

    You saw a series of selected clips of my commute and me logging into my workstation?

  11. Ray, I want you to acknowledge and apologize for putting words in my mouth. Single quotation marks or not, you implied that I made a certain argument that I did not make.

    And while this might be a totally forlorn hope, I’d also like for you to acknowledge the stereotype of which you are guilty. You’re the one who drew a false conclusion about the film based on your impression of the group it belongs to. That’s what stereotyping is.

    You have not retracted your implication that the film needs to be defended of the charge of stereotyping, even though I wrote (and you ignored),

    What’s to defend in the film, Ray? Tell me what stereotypes you find in it. Have you seen it? Do you have a specific charge to bring against it? Do you know what biases it presents?

    Ray, don’t lock yourself into an untenable position here.

  12. As for “a right to be popular,” Ray, you should read Greg Lukianoff’s Unlearning Liberty. He’s a card-carrying atheistic abortion- and gay rights-supporter, the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and he says the amount of administrative discrimination against Christians on college campuses has astonished him. It outstrips all other administrative discrimination. So no, this isn’t just about being unpopular.

  13. Tom –

    Ray, I want you to acknowledge and apologize for putting words in my mouth. Single quotation marks or not, you implied that I made a certain argument that I did not make.

    Tom, I already apologized for the impression that I put words in your mouth, and I explained that wasn’t my intention. However, the paraphrases themselves are accurate, so far as I can tell. I said the professor “really looks like he belongs in all those forwarded emails” based on “[t]he trailer”. You claim I am biased (that is what stereotyping means in this context, right?) because of the impressions I took from the trailer you linked to.

    The other paraphrase – I’ll use double-quotes to quote my own words – “‘many professors admit to not liking Christianity'”, references the article you linked to. (The passage from the article in question: “more than half of professors hold “cool” or “cold” feelings toward evangelical Christianity”.)

    I apologize (a third time) for the format, but I stand by the substance.

    You’re the one who drew a false conclusion about the film based on your impression of the group it belongs to. That’s what stereotyping is.

    I relayed my impressions of the film based on the trailer, I did not put forth a conclusion. I said it “looks stereotyped”, based on the trailer, I didn’t say it was, since I haven’t seen the film. In short, I said the trailer did not give me a favorable impression of the movie, that’s all.

  14. Yes, Ray. Those poor atheists. You keep fighting the good fight. Otherwise, those Christians will take over the world.

  15. Personally, I don’t like “message movies”– whether the message is religious, political or left or right. Part of the problem of message movies (stereotypes aside) is that for the most part they end up preaching to the choir. Why is this? Well, who enjoys being preached at? I certainly don’t. That’s why I find myself cringing when a film like this comes out.

    On the other hand, ironically, discussions about things like this demonstrate the incorrigibility and irrationality of internet atheists who show up on blogs like this only to get in a cheap shot or two. By the way, these are the same interlocutors who run away and hide whenever they are confronted with real arguments.

  16. I was right. It was a forlorn hope. At least so far.

    The paraphrases are inaccurate. I said nothing even remotely resembling, “anyone who expresses reservations about it is biased.”

    Your apology was for the impression that you were delivering a quotation when in fact what you intended it to be a “summation,” a “paraphrased” passage.

    You did put forth a conclusion, and you repeated it: “I said the professor ‘really looks like he belongs in all those forwarded emails.’” That’s a conclusion concerning what the professor looks like to you, and it’s a prejudicial, stereotyped, false one. You drew that conclusion about the professor’s appearance in the trailer, when there was nothing in the trailer to indicate he was being portrayed in that manner.

    Time for you to ‘fess up to the truth, Ray.

  17. Personally, I don’t like “message movies”– whether the message is religious, political or left or right. ….Well, who enjoys being preached at? I certainly don’t.

    JAD,

    You must go to very few movies and watch very little television then. If we didn’t have such a monolithic media machine with a very well rehearsed message maybe this kind of thing wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, we do.

  18. You drew that conclusion about the professor’s appearance in the trailer, when there was nothing in the trailer to indicate he was being portrayed in that manner.

    I went and looked at the trailer again. Sure enough, I missed these quotes of the professor, which are full of nuance and subtlety:

    “I would like to bypass senseless debate altogether and jump to the conclusion […] there is no God.”

    “All that I require from each of you is that you fill in the papers I have just given you with three little words: ‘God is dead’.”

    “Do you think you’re smarter than me, Wheaton? Do not try to humiliate me in front of my students. In that classroom, there is a God. I’m him.”

    “It is obvious that there is no God.”

    “You have no idea how much I’m going to enjoy failing you.”

    I must confess, I have no idea how I could have gotten the impression of an arrogant, small-minded tyrant. (BTW, one of those quotes isn’t from the trailer; it’s from a snopes email. Without re-watching the trailer or going to snopes.com, who can pick it out from the above?)

  19. Now you’ve changed the conclusion you said you drew. What you’ve described here has almost nothing to do with the Snopes link.

    Ray, you’re being an eel. You’ll twist yourself into any strange shape you can in order to slip out of things.

  20. BillT:

    JAD,

    You must go to very few movies and watch very little television then.

    You nailed it. I cancelled my satellite service over a year ago. (There are no “free” broadcast channels available where I live.) I haven’t seen any new movies in over three years. (Ironically, I’m the only person I know who has actually written a screen play.) I get my news and weather off the internet… However, I do miss baseball.

    I don’t deny that most movies have a message, but with the better movies the message is very subtle. For example, one of my favorite movies is, A Few Good Men, based on Aaron Sorkin’s screen play. Certainly Sorkin has a message but you don’t know that (at least I didn’t) going in. I certainly don’t agree with Sorkin’s political views but neither do I think that Sorkin’s motives were to promote a particular message. I think he was just trying to tell a good story. The “message” was really secondary–almost in the shadows.

  21. Now you’ve changed the conclusion you said you drew.

    Not in the slightest. As I said from the very beginning, “[T]he professor really looks like he belongs in all those forwarded emails”. That’s why I mixed in a ringer quote from an urban legend. Please, carefully re-read what I’ve written here.

    Just out of curiosity, how do you interpret the quotes I listed? Do you think that guy sounds like a real prince? What subtle characterization am I missing?

  22. I have an answer, Ray. I typed it. Then I remembered that I’m waiting for you to rescind your mischaracterizations of my position. I’ll respond to your most recent questions when you’ve responded to what I wrote hours ago.

  23. I still don’t think I’ve mischaracterized what you said. Only two people so far have expressed reservations about the film based on the trailer – both saying basically the same thing, that the professor appears like a stock character from an urban legend. Even in the article that you cited, you concede that neither of us are the first to get that impression.

    And you immediately claimed that both of them were stereotyping. (That’s what I get out “Stereotype much?”) You didn’t ask either of us to defend our contentions, you jumped straight to accusations of bias.

    In your article, you also grant that “Professor Radissons… are, thankfully, not that common.” The movie portrays a kind of “anti-Christian pressure” that few students are ever likely to encounter. Why doesn’t the movie tackle something that is “that common” rather than pick a rare situation so reminiscent of urban legend that even sympathetic Christians pick up on it?

    So yeah, I think I presented you fairly. If you disagree, let me know how you interpret those quotes from the trailer.

  24. Ray, I have no clue on earth what your first paragraph has to do with what either of us said earlier. You mischaracterized my position in #7. What you’ve written here has nothing to do with that misrepresentation.

    I really don’t like communicating this way, where you say A, I explain that A is inaccurate, and you respond, “But no, Tom, B isn’t false at all!”

    I get really tired of that. It’s been the cause of multiple and repeated thread-hijackings.

  25. What you’ve written here has nothing to do with that misrepresentation.

    Okay, fine. What is “that misrepresentation” that I didn’t address? You can use single or double quotes to quote my words.

  26. Tom,

    As a university professor myself and a Christian, I am anxious to see this movie. I think that atheist-Christian relationships in academia is a valid and important current topic of discussion. I am not troubled with concerns about stereotyping since this movie is obviously fiction and there is always, and inevitably, a bit of prototyping (rather than stereotyping) that takes place in telling a story through contrived characters. The question that can only be answered after viewing the movie is whether or not the characters come off as authentic people. I know some professors who believe that their classroom is their domain for challenging their students to think deeply and critically about important social and ethical issues. Often, their “arrogance” is merely provocative and serves as a teaching tool or strategy. I’ll wait to pass judgment on this movie’s characterization of the professor until I see it.

    That said, I think that Alan Noble’s review that Ray Ingles provided a link to here of the trailer of the movie is off the mark. There is a strong component of “pressure” inherent in the professor-student relationship that must be acknowledged, and some professors do abuse their power to influence their students’ thinking, especially when they themselves have strong convictions or ideologies. I teach in an academic discipline that involves controversy and “politics” so I know what this is about: the balance between offering students the benefits of my scholarship and expertise, while also allowing and encouraging them to reach their own moral and ethical conclusions about controversial issues in our society based on knowledge and critical thinking rather than “knee-jerk” reactions.

    I also have always attempted to be open to valid arguments from students who disagree and have never failed a student or lowered a grade when students present coherent and well-articulated, thoughtful arguments to support their views. This is what every Christian college student should be able to do in support of their faith, whether this occurs in the open forum of a classroom or in informal interactions between them and their professors and fellow students.

    Thanks for alerting us to this important film. JB

  27. Thank you, Jenna.

    Ray, you ask,

    In your article, you also grant that “Professor Radissons… are, thankfully, not that common.” The movie portrays a kind of “anti-Christian pressure” that few students are ever likely to encounter. Why doesn’t the movie tackle something that is “that common” rather than pick a rare situation so reminiscent of urban legend that even sympathetic Christians pick up on it?

    Do you realize how strange a question that is? It’s a movie, Ray!

    Don’t you realize that there are real situations that are at the same time reminiscent of carefully chosen urban legends?

    Don’t you realize that it’s not unusual to address a common problem by focusing on a magnified version of it?

    Don’t you realize that if some magnified version has only happened once, it might still be portrayed on screen?

    Don’t you realize that situations paralleling the magnified version have happened more than once?

    Don’t you realize your question here sounds like you’re trying really, really, really hard to find something to complain about in this film?

  28. In answer to #33:

    Ray, early on you implied that I had said, “‘anyone who expresses reservations about [the film] is biased’.” You further implied I was arguing that “‘many professors admit to not liking Christianity’ is … the same thing as ‘professors commonly denigrate Christianity and Christian students in the classroom’.”

    I explained clearly in #8 that this was a misrepresentation of my position.

    You explained where you got it from in #13:

    Now you’ve come back and pressed me on it without showing the slightest sign of having read the article I linked to.

    That’s exactly where the many professors admit to not liking Christianity came from.

    You got it from me, in other words. Note, by the way, that my view that many professors admission of disliking Christianity was not the point that was in question. The point in question was whether I had said that was the same as “professors commonly denigrate Christianity and Christian students in the classroom.” You missed that crucial distinction, thus distorting the matter. You continued to miss it in #21.

    At any rate, you indicated there that you got it from me. I challenged you again in #8 on the quotes, and you responded in #13 that it was a paraphrase or summation. Still the implication was that it came from me.

    Later, however, that morphed again to a paraphrase or summation of something you gained by way of some source other than myself. At that point you shifted to talking exclusively about the trailer. Thus apparently the message is that you would have liked the trailer to be more of an active defense of the film.

    I think that’s odd.

    That was one thread of shifting misrepresentations. There was at least one other. You wrote in #7, “Tom, even if I were stereotyping, that would not defend the film from the charge of stereotyping. We could both be guilty, no?”

    Later in #13 you said, “the very first words of my comment” were about the trailer, not the film, and that therefore it should have been clear you were calling the trailer stereotyped, not the film. Granted, you had said something about the trailer in #5. You said something about the film in #7. That is, you spoke about both the trailer and the film being stereotyped. Then you corrected me in #13 for not reading “trailer” where you wrote “film.”

    Then at the end of #21 you shifted further, saying you hadn’t drawn any conclusions but that the film looked stereotyped

    I think that’s odd, too.

    (You will undoubtedly be preparing, as you read this, to write, “But Tom, I never said in #7 that the film was stereotyped7! I only said that it could be guilty even if I were guilty too.” Go ahead and write that if you think it will help.)

  29. Tom:

    A little friendly advice from George Bernard Shaw: “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

    Eel?

  30. I just watched both movie trailers. No, I see no stereotypes here.

    I mean, come on, no way! Our plucky young hero faces all odds against the tyrannical authority figure? Cue the anti-intellectualism, the distrust of unbridled liberalism, the angry and unreasonable atheist! Our young hero struggles, facing rejection at every corner, but by virtue of his purity of heart and the timely intervention of a mentor, defeats his opponent and reveals that there is no philosophical basis for the Philosophy professor (!) to disbelieve God, no, it’s only blind anger and emotional rejection!

    It’s okay. I love Campbell. I also love tropes, although maybe not when they’re so overdone.

    Please, completely disregard the sheer irony of enlisting the help of such a genuine actor whose famous comments on gays, non-Christian religions, and how slaves were better off under Jim Crow are pillars of Christian virtue. Completely gloss over any nuance of the actual phrase “God is Dead” and simply parody it as an atheist slogan.

    Yeah, it looks like a Chick tract with better production values. At least, that’s certainly how it’s being marketed.

  31. At the risk of derailing the thread, I wonder if Tom can cite any specific instances where in his mind a critic of Christianity has ever correctly articulated a Christian belief, or do the critics always stereotype, erect strawmen, and mis-characterize.

    Tell me, Tom, do you know any critics who get Christianity right and yet still make valid criticisms? In your opinion, are there any valid criticisms of Christianity or is Christianity itself above reproach?

  32. Larry, God is above reproach. His revelation in Jesus Christ and in his word, properly understood, is above reproach. Humans’ understanding is imperfect and often reproachable, and “Christianity” as a social expression of belief and of community is flawed in many ways.

  33. Sault:

    Our young hero struggles, facing rejection at every corner, but by virtue of his purity of heart and the timely intervention of a mentor, defeats his opponent and reveals that there is no philosophical basis for the Philosophy professor (!)

    What are you suggesting, Sault? That there actually could be a philosophical basis for the Philosophy professor’s atheism? How could a non-belief be grounded in anything? Why don’t you enlighten us about that rather than prejudging a movie you have never seen and have no desire to see.

  34. Tom –

    Do you realize how strange a question that is? It’s a movie, Ray!

    Entertainment doesn’t need to realistic. But this is supposed to be an “authentic” movie. (Or maybe “some magnified version” of something that “has only happened once”?) Why the necessity to flirt with stereotypes (and, again, atheists are hardly the only ones to see stereotypes in the trailer)? Are you going to contend that a huge portion of the audience won’t be familiar with those urban legends, that they won’t be bringing exactly that to the film?

    I mean, according to you, this movie’s “message is strong”. Why this approach, instead of a movie that actually addresses the “challenging spiritual atmosphere of the typical college campus”, the “subtle” “anti-Christian pressure”? Which message would be more valuable?

  35. I was getting a series of emails notifying me of multiple attempts to break in to the website—more than I’ve ever seen in such a short time—so I placed Cloudflare on its highest security setting. I’ll try backing it off to a more normal setting again now.

  36. Tom –

    The point in question was whether I had said that was the same as “professors commonly denigrate Christianity and Christian students in the classroom.” You missed that crucial distinction, thus distorting the matter.

    I think I did over-read there. You’re not saying that’s common, just that students’ faith will probably be challenged at the “typical college campus”. I am sorry for misunderstanding and thus misrepresenting your point there.

    That cleared up, though, I think it actually reinforces my point about stereotypes. Atheist professors claiming that “God is dead” in class, and requiring students to agree with that as a condition for passing their course, aren’t common anywhere but in forwarded emails.

    That is, you spoke about both the trailer and the film being stereotyped.

    Because I’m basing my (provisional) judgment of the film on the snippets the producers chose to put in the trailer. The point of a trailer is to give people a taste of the movie! They can certainly be deceptive (I still recall the mid-eighties horror film “The Gate” that put every single special effect save one in the trailer)… but are you arguing that the trailer gives a false impression of the film?

    It’s entirely possible the trailer is misleading. I concede that I’d be rather surprised if that were the case, but it’s possible. Based on the trailer, though, I’m in no hurry to go get my impressions corrected, if that’s the case.

  37. JAD –

    That there actually could be a philosophical basis for the Philosophy professor’s atheism? How could a non-belief be grounded in anything?

    There can’t be a philosophical basis for rejecting a belief or class of beliefs? Is that what you’re claiming?

  38. And movies should never, ever, ever display any uncommon characters! If they do, they’re certainly stereotyping!

    Ray, your impressions were formed before you saw the trailer. (That’s my stereotype operating. I admit it.)

  39. @Tom

    Hand-waving because I sourced some of my comments? Oh, Tom.

    Tropes aside, it’s not just me seeing some cheese in this movie. For example, as one reviewer noted – “Every non-Christian character in the film is amoral, disrespectful, and vicious.” (all reviews written by Christians, FWIW)

    “By the way, Phil Robertson isn’t in God’s Not Dead, and your drive-by swipe at him wouldn’t be responsible commenting even if he were.”

    Ahh, it’s one of the others. I can’t tell them apart. Regardless of the sincerity of their personal beliefs, their image is contrived, and that’s the irony of their inclusion.

    @JAD

    “What are you suggesting, Sault? That there actually could be a philosophical basis for the Philosophy professor’s atheism? How could a non-belief be grounded in anything?”

    Perhaps you should ask the professor. It stands to reason that if anyone could have a philosophical reason for rejecting Christianity, it might just very well be a professor of Philosophy.

    …and how do you know whether I want to see it or not? I could watch it with my friends and play a game of Atheist Bingo!

  40. And movies should never, ever, ever display any uncommon characters!

    And now you’re misrepresenting what I wrote. I asked, very specifically, why this uncommon character was chosen, given the movie’s ostensible message.

  41. Perhaps someone can help me out (Tom?). What is the meaning of the phrase “God is Dead”? Is it really just an atheist’s slogan, as the movie portrays it to be?

  42. …their image is contrived, and that’s the irony of their inclusion.

    And you base this on what exactly or is this just another elitist drive-by comment.

  43. @Sault:

    What is the meaning of the phrase “God is Dead”? Is it really just an atheist’s slogan, as the movie portrays it to be?

    See this.

    note: two remarks. (1) I have not seen the movie or the trailer. (2) Nietzche, while an atheist, is a fierce and ironical writer with only contempt for the kind of bovine atheism that self-deludedly pretends that it can continue to cling to the crumbs of morality only Christianity, the religion of the weak and the slave, can justify.

  44. I think y’all think about and look for stereotypes too much. If someone stereotypes me, I’m pretty much oblivious to it. It doesn’t matter! I take each person and each situation individually. The professor is “a” professor, not “all” professors. They wanted to make a film about a professor like him and a student like this student. Not all Christian students would have responded the same way and not all professors are like this guy. Get over it. Just take the film for what it is and enjoy it.

  45. Actually, no, Sault, I wasn’t hand-waving because you sourced some of your comments. I was linking to multiple sources showing that the presence of tropes in literature is perfectly normal, in fact universal. In itself it’s no indicator of quality, whether good or bad.

  46. Ray:

    And now you’re misrepresenting what I wrote. I asked, very specifically, why this uncommon character was chosen, given the movie’s ostensible message.

    Could you please show me where you raised that very specific question, and how your wording rules out my interpretation?

  47. @BillT

    As I noted in an earlier comment, the clan have not always been what they’ve claimed to be. Certainly surprised me.

    @G

    “What Nietzsche means when the madman says we have killed God is not that God is literally dead, but that our belief or need for God is dead.” [source]

    At the very least, it appears that the film takes the statement out of context and seems to give it a meaning that it did not necessarily have. I get the impression that the film-makers did Nietzsche a disservice. Writing it on a piece of paper without any discussion of what Nietzsche actually meant…?

    Considering that the title of the movie is based on Nietzsche’s quote, if they got *that* wrong, then it doesn’t exactly lend authenticity or credibility to the rest of the film.

    But hey, correct me if I’m wrong. It’s been quite some time since I last gave Nietszche any in-depth study time, so I’d appreciate the perspective of someone who might know better than me.

  48. Sault,

    This was well known by anyone who knows anything about the Robertsons (and was public information) and has absolutely nothing so say about whether their image was contrived. They had grown their beards and worked in the family business for years before the show went on the air. You’ll have to do better than that.

  49. Sault,

    It’s a film. I’m sure you derived all your impressions from fully informed factual information. I’m sorry you didn’t absolutely love every minute of the film while you were watching it so closely.

  50. I’m sorry, but this has grown too Byzantine. You say now that because of #45, my ironic statement that movies should never portray uncommon characters is a misrepresentation of your position, you say?

    But in #45 you echoed various versions of how authentic the movie was intended to be, and then you asked a series of questions. How was I supposed to be able to misrepresent your position from that?

    And was I not supposed to gain an idea of your position from #26 or #31, where you made statements (not questions, but statements) of your own?

    Wow.

  51. @Tom

    After reading almost two dozen reviews and watching both trailers, I think I have a reasonably well-informed view of what the movie is.

    You watched it, you enjoyed it, and that’s just fine, but you also didn’t see the stereotyping and haven’t commented on what appears to be the film-maker’s misrepresentation of Nietzsche, sooooo…. hey, maybe you just needed some help seeing the forest for the cheese.

    In the meantime, anyone up for a game of Atheist Bingo?

  52. Sault, RE: #58

    In regard to getting Nietzsche wrong, I’m a product of the ’60’s and I remember when the phrase “God is Dead” came out on the cover of Time Magazine. There was much speculation about how religion would soon die out and atheism would be the predominant worldview in American society. I also remember the “Jesus Seminar” and all the furor and debate around what many thought was a rewriting of the Gospels to negate Jesus’ divinity. And remember when the Beetles declared proudly that they were more popular than Jesus? Around 1965 I think it was.

    I don’t know how much this movie may be playing to the older crowd of those of us who have been around the “God is Dead” mulberry bush a number of times before. I doubt that many people in the target audience for this film will know much about Nietzsche, most certainly not enough to know whether or not his philosophy was misrepresented, or possibly even care.

    What interests me about this conversation is that this movie is generating so much debate before it is even released to the public. Today, right?

  53. Sault:

    After reading almost two dozen reviews and watching both trailers, I think I have a reasonably well-informed view of what the movie is.

    (emphasis added)

    If you’re going to put that much effort into it, why not just go to the movie?

  54. Thanks for the reply in #42, Tom. If I understand you then you claim a critic could not even in principle find fault with a “properly understood” Christianity.

    If so, then any criticism of Christianity is always and intrinsically misguided because either the critic improperly understands it or is criticizing a flawed representative of Christianity (like a Westboro, or Pat Robertson, and so on), as these are part of an imperfect “social expression of belief and of community,” and not the true Christianity — which is, as you imply, beyond reproach.

    I wonder if this is why you seem to take particular umbrage at atheism and naturalism. Other religions may be seen as degrees away from the ideal — God’s “revelation in Jesus Christ and in his word, properly understood” — but atheism and naturalism in different ways subject the ideal to rational scrutiny and find it wanting, both on its face and compared to alternative views of reality. Atheism and naturalism are therefore completely and absolutely incommensurate with what you deeply believe to be justifiably true. Even worse, they consider your deeply held beliefs to be weak, unsupported, outmoded and finally irrelevant. And even worse, atheism and naturalism seem to be productive and progressive in the world, while ideal Christianity remains unattained.

    To me, ideal Christianity is a double-edged sword — so in the end not THAT great — since it is unassailable yet also permanently unrealized. No use talking about it since every discussion must ultimately end with how awesome it is, and no use thinking about it since it’s never to be part of this world anyway. My two cents, though I’m sure I did not characterize ideal Christianity correctly, since it is above reproach.

  55. Sault, thank you for your intensive research by which I could finally learn what the movie was about.

    Atheist bingo? The matrix of reasons there reminds of another list, though that one contains only theistic arguments. Good ones.

  56. Larry, your analysis of my motivations is essentially correct as far as it goes, except it misses out on the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14) and the deathly future awaiting those who reject him. And of course I disagree completely with your “And even worse…” statement. Ideal Christianity remains unattained, true, but that’s for reasons Christians understand very well; and atheism and naturalism are productive and progressive only to the extent that they deny their own commitments and entailments.

    Ideal Christianity is embodied in Jesus Christ, who is awesome and worthy of worship. Worship means recognizing he is better than we are, and that his ideal is unattainable. It is nevertheless well worth pursuing.

  57. Earlier (@ #44) I wrote:

    What are you suggesting, Sault? That there actually could be a philosophical basis for the Philosophy professor’s atheism? How could a non-belief be grounded in anything?

    I have been told numerous times by numerous atheists that atheism is simply disbelief or non-belief in God or gods. A non-belief is not a belief; so atheism is not about anything. Therefore, there is nothing about the real world upon which atheism can be grounded. Metaphysics, epistemology and morality/ethics cannot be grounded starting with non-belief. It is irrational and absurd to believe it can be. Any atheist who thinks this way has not come to terms with his or her own atheism. What makes their position even more absurd is when they try to argue with other people who genuinely have beliefs and dishonestly pretend that atheism is a belief.

    I have honestly given some thought as to how I would treat other people if I were an atheist. The first thing I think I would do is not pretend that my non-belief was some kind of belief… However, maybe not, because that presupposes that I would actually be honest with myself and others, but on atheism we have nothing upon which to ground morality or ethics. Therefore, they have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

  58. Hi JAD,

    “I have honestly given some thought as to how I would treat other people if I were an atheist. The first thing I think I would do is not pretend that my non-belief was some kind of belief… However, maybe not, because that presupposes that I would actually be honest with myself and others, but on atheism we have nothing upon which to ground morality or ethics. Therefore, they have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

    This implies that the only reason you are honest is because of God. You want to be dishonest, but you don’t because you are being supervised. Now I don’t believe that of you or any other Christian for a second. Mainly because I used to be one, and now I am not, and I am exactly the same person as I used to be. I was not suddenly filled with a desire to lie or cheat or steal. Because having a reasonable IQ and empathy, I understand that my actions have consequences for others and I don’t want to deliberately inflict suffering on another person. That’s where my morality and ethics are grounded. That’s where yours would be too. Quite frankly, I think that’s where most of yours are grounded right now, not because of a belief in God.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  59. Shane:

    This implies that the only reason you are honest is because of God.

    Amen to that!

    You want to be dishonest, but you don’t because you are being supervised.

    How would you know that? You don’t know me. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 I am a new creation. God’s love is what I am “supervised” by.

    Now I don’t believe that of you or any other Christian for a second. Mainly because I used to be one, and now I am not, and I am exactly the same person as I used to be.

    Do you understand 2 Corinthians 5:17? Explain to me then how you can become uncreated? How and when did that happen? I want to know how God reverses the process. Why would he single you out to be uncreated?

    You think you understand what I believe? Again, how would you know that? I would say you never really understood Christianity. Do you know the name of my cat? If you don’t know his name then how can you really know anything about the personal or spiritual side of my life? But like I said I don’t know that you are not omniscient. If you are tell me the name of my cat. Otherwise you are being presumptive.

    I was not suddenly filled with a desire to lie or cheat or steal. Because having a reasonable IQ and empathy, I understand that my actions have consequences for others and I don’t want to deliberately inflict suffering on another person. That’s where my morality and ethics are grounded.

    So you are perfect? Infallible? If you are not, then your moral self righteousness is an insufficient grounding for either yourself or anyone else. It doesn’t matter how high your IQ is. If you had really been a Christian you would have understood that. It’s sort of like our secret handshake.

    That’s where yours would be too. Quite frankly, I think that’s where most of yours are grounded right now, not because of a belief in God.

    Quite frankly, Shane, I don’t think you were ever really a Christian.

  60. Hi JAD

    This implies that the only reason you are honest is because of God.

    “Amen to that!”

    You want to be dishonest, but you don’t because you are being supervised.

    “How would you know that?”

    Ah … because you said it, most recently in your sentence immediately prior to that one.

    Atheists have no reason to be honest.
    God is the only reason you are honest.
    Ergo, if you no longer believed in God you would be free to be dishonest which is what you want.

    Again, I don’t think you really believe this and have just misspoken here.

    “Do you understand 2 Corinthians 5:17? Explain to me then how you can become uncreated? How and when did that happen? I want to know how God reverses the process. Why would he single you out to be uncreated?”

    Well as an atheist I don’t believe that passage so I don’t need to explain my life choices in relation to it. I don’t believe in God, so I don’t believe he reversed any process or singled me out. That’s kind of the point. Surely you are not suggesting that I am the first Christian to become an atheist? Do they all need some kind of divine explanation? I thought we had free will?

    “You think you understand what I believe? Again, how would you know that? I would say you never really understood Christianity. ”

    Were you aware of the hypocrisy when you wrote these sentences?

    I did not say I understood what you believed. I said I thought I knew what you believed (in this specific instance related to lying) based on what I know of you through your interactions here.

    “So you are perfect? Infallible? If you are not, then your moral self righteousness is an insufficient grounding for either yourself or anyone else.”

    I didn’t claim to be perfect, infallible or morally self righteous. I don’t really know what you are getting at here.

    “It doesn’t matter how high your IQ is. If you had really been a Christian you would have understood that. It’s sort of like our secret handshake.”

    I have no idea what you mean by secret handshake. Nothing of my faith, interactions with the church and fellow Christians or spreading the word of the bible was secret. I am just confused by your words here.

    “Quite frankly, Shane, I don’t think you were ever really a Christian.”

    Maybe you should define Christian for me. And if it’s anything beyond someone who believes Christ died on the cross to pay for my sins and give the free, unearnable and undeserving gift of salvation you will need to site some scripture to back up what you think.

    And again, do you see the contradiction in telling me I don’t know you, but in suggesting you have some insight about me? Why are Christians, so big on “free will” and “faith grounded in evidence” so upset by former Christians who exercise their free will and decide that the available evidence no longer justifies their faith?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  61. Shane,

    I want you to see two thuings you’re missing here.

    First, you’ve made the mistake of equating because of God with because of God’s supervision. But that’s not the primary sense in which I, as a Christian, take the meaning of because of God. There is also because of God’s

    character, which is the foundation of all reality
    love, which motivates me to emulate him
    sacrifice on the Cross, which again motivates me to follow him
    expressed will, which informs me of how the universe is constituted in its deepest reality
    creation of humans in his image, by which we know that there is something which humans are meant to be like, and by which we understand that there is a moral design that is good for us to follow
    • … and more, though that’s enough for now.

    So for you to reduce because of God to his supervision alone is to misunderstand Christianity.

    Second, you’ve made the mistake of equating because of God with because of belief in God. (See the end of your comment 70.) That’s a common error in discussions on this topic. The Christian view is not that ethics are grounded in religion, belief, or any such thing. The Christian view is that ethics are grounded in God. Motivation may well be based in belief, but ethics themselves are not.

    Take another look at my bullet list here. Two of the items are about my motivation, and they are tied to my belief: if I didn’t believe in his loving sacrifice, I wouldn’t have that motivation to do good. The other items, however, apply whether I believe in him or not. They apply to you, Shane, even though you don’t believe in him. There is such a thing as “good” for humans because God has made it so, even for humans who don’t acknowledge him for who he is.

    JAD questioned whether you were ever a Christian. I wouldn’t presume to know. But I would say this: your understanding of what Christianity teaches is shallow, as demonstrated here. You say,

    Maybe you should define Christian for me. And if it’s anything beyond someone who believes Christ died on the cross to pay for my sins and give the free, unearnable and undeserving gift of salvation you will need to site [sic] some scripture to back up what you think.

    Yes, it’s something beyond that. It’s knowing who Christ is, who God is, and who we are in relation to God. Your statements here indicate that you have never understood who God is or what Christianity teaches about our relationship to him. It’s not that you disagree with Christianity, it’s that you seem to be unable to represent accurately what’s taught by Christianity.

    You may have been a Christian in fact, at one time. If so, then I believe God has you in his grip and will bring you back to him. If not, then I believe you need to come to him regardless. You need to come to God in Christ. One great step in that direction would be to understand clearly what Christianity teaches. One great step toward that would be to recognize that up till now you haven’t understood that as well as you’ve thought you have.

  62. Shane,

    Let me ditto everything Tom has written but let me add a couple of more things:.

    (1) There is no equivalency between your moral standards and “mine” because my standards don’t come from me. At best you are left with a subjective standard that applies only to you, which means you can move the goal posts anytime you want. But ironically even you, apparently, have to admit that you are not perfect or infallible according your own personal made-up standards

    (2) You are continuing to be dishonest because you continue to play the-bait-and-switch game pretending, when it’s convenient, that your disbelief or non-belief can be used as if were a belief. How are these pretend beliefs of yours in anyway binding on anyone else? Unless there is a standard of truth that transcends, and therefore is binding on you, me and others, there is no way to have a rational conversation about anything.

  63. “which means you can move the goal posts anytime you want.”

    Indeed. And it should be noted that Shane has admitted as much in the past.

  64. In my conversations with atheists, and indeed, in the writings of many atheists, they complain about a lack of a clear and (preferably) uniform definition of God as being a major reason for their being atheists. I hear the same complaint about Christianity. I take this to be a statement that goes something like this.

    Atheist to Christian: “As an atheist, I don’t have a clue what you mean when you say believe in (God, Christianity) but I strongly disapprove of the fact that you do.”

  65. Here is an interesting “review” of the movie, God’s Not Dead, written by an actual philosophy professor who describes himself as “a professional atheist.” (BTW notice the date, Nov. 11, 2013, when this review was posted. Obviously he could not have seen the movie.)

    I love this because the philosophy professor, hilariously, is a condemnation of all the attitudes of another figure you may recognize. You know—the all powerful guy with the fragile ego who supposedly cannot tolerate anyone who disobeys him again? You know who I am talking about. He has a real god complex. He supposedly threw the first pair of humans out of paradise, cursed their children with sin and misery, and made childbearing excruciatingly painful all because they ate a $#%&!^@ piece of fruit he told them not to and which would (horror of horrors!) let them know about good and evil for themselves? He will not stand to have anyone think for themselves! He demands people just assert things without any evidence, with no rational appeal to their intellect! If they don’t believe and write down what he tells them and love him for it, He relishes not just failing them but torturing them for eternity! He is a super petty, insecure, bully who stands for no insolent, humiliating disagreement or freedom of thought and thinks he can do whatever he wants because no one can check his power? Oh, wait! That’s right! It’s your God, Christians! Just seeing him brought to life in this perverted representation of a philosophy professor reminds me why I’m so relieved the b******d does not exist!

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2013/11/the-atheist-philosophy-professor-strikes-back/

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I call that an uninformed (willfully ignorant, actually) contemptuous tirade. I wonder how this professor, with such a distorted and bigoted view of the Christian faith, would behave if he were really to get angry. I don’t think it is that much of a stretch that someone in his position would take it out on some of the Christians in his classroom.

    I also find it curious that a philosophy professor doesn’t seem to know what a logical fallacy is. For example, he argues that “More than 83% of philosophy faculty and philosophy PhDs are not theists. Nearly 70% either lean to or outright accept atheism…” and “93% of scientists in the elite National Academy of Sciences… are atheists” etc. Yet, earlier he had talked about Socrates and others who were “among the greatest champions of freedom of thought and conscience… often defying the clergy and theologians of their day as much as the theocratic ages they lived in would allow.” But during those fabled times those who were supposedly on the side of truth were a vastly out numbered minority. In other words, in ancient times those who defied the authority of the majority were on the side of truth but in now in modern times every ones need bow on bended knees before the enlightened elites (who are in the majority) simply because they are now in charge… Can’t our universities do better than this?

  66. Jenna,
    Part of the problem for atheists is that individuals vary in their beliefs so widely. Your personal definitions of God and Christianity differ from many other persons’ definitions. So, to converse with any one Christian or theist you have to first figure out what they think they mean. Add to this the problem that Tom raised to me: while there is an ideal Christianity that was supposedly embodied for only one brief period over 2000 years ago in Jesus, nobody attains the ideal in belief or practice, ever.

    I don’t object to your holding theistic views, far from it. I object to automatic demonization of non-theistic views and of the people who hold such views. Just tell me that non-theism is no less valid than your belief. I also object to the idea that Christianity — even ideal Christianity — is entitled to exemption from criticism, scrutiny, parody, and opposition.

    Not one thing about Christinaity seems plausible or sensible or noteworthy to me, but you are welcome to adhere to it as much as you want. But if you want to use your flawed personal amalgamation of Christianity to criticize my beliefs, then I want to challenge you right back. At the very least, I want to know why ancient, usually anonymous writings should guide thinking on complex contemporary issues.

  67. Larry, #78

    I have spent a great deal of time in conversations on the internet, as well as in my personal life, with atheists. When we start to really examine “definitions of God” I find that most atheists have fairly clear, although often not articulated, beliefs about God (not beliefs in God). IOW, atheists have a definite idea about the God/god they don’t believe in. And usually, I can honestly say that I don’t believe in that God either. An example is Richard Dawkins’ monster of a God of the OT that he articulates. I really wish that atheists could understand this since I think that it would cut down on a lot of “arguing” because we are actually in agreement since neither of us believe that THAT (whatever it is) is what God is like, God does, etc.

    Let’s be clear about this: I don’t think that atheism is merely a form of “non-theistic beliefs.” The atheism I have a problem with, and do not consider valid, is the atheism that denies God’s existence and because of this, unlike your attitude apparently, results in a condemnation of belief in God and simultaneously, a condescending attitude toward believers in God.

    I do not know of a single Christian who believes in “… the idea that Christianity — even ideal Christianity — is entitled to exemption from criticism, scrutiny, parody, and opposition.” There is no such exemption for any religious ideas, teachings, doctrines or traditions, just as the same is true for atheism. Parody, however, is counterproductive, because to attack a parodied version of Christianity is to make a straw man argument and then attack it rather than what Christianity really is, based on Jesus Christ’s life, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection. Unlike the No True Scotsman fallacy in argumentation, there is a One True Christianity and if you find it worthy of criticism and scrutiny, have it it! However, keep in mind that opposition to Christianity is not the same thing as opposition to the behavior of Christians, which in many cases we can all agree is worthy of opposition.

  68. Hi Tom

    “First, you’ve made the mistake of equating because of God with because of God’s supervision. But that’s not the primary sense in which I, as a Christian, take the meaning of because of God.”

    “Second, you’ve made the mistake of equating because of God with because of belief in God. (See the end of your comment 70.) That’s a common error in discussions on this topic. The Christian view is not that ethics are grounded in religion, belief, or any such thing. The Christian view is that ethics are grounded in God. Motivation may well be based in belief, but ethics themselves are not.”

    I think you mean JAD made these mistakes when he said

    “Therefore, they(atheists) have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.”

    I am just repeating his words back. Now either God affects us all unknowingly or he doesn’t so the “behind the scenes” reasons you mention are a wash for all of mankind. So the only difference between our actions is that I want to cause no harm to others on my own volition and Christians think there is someone keeping a spiritual tally.

    “It’s knowing who Christ is, who God is, and who we are in relation to God. ”

    But people can know that and not be Christians, right? Satan, for example, knows all that. At your core you are an American because of the fact you were born there. And you are a Christian through being born again after accepting hi as your saviour.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  69. Hi JAD,

    “There is no equivalency between your moral standards and “mine” because my standards don’t come from me. At best you are left with a subjective standard that applies only to you, which means you can move the goal posts anytime you want. But ironically even you, apparently, have to admit that you are not perfect or infallible according your own personal made-up standards”

    Goal posts are being moved all the time. Slavery has been disposed of in America because this once acceptable practise has been recognised as abhorrent. Or, I guess, people of different races were finally recognised as real people instead of some type of animal. History shows nothing but moving moral goal posts. And the question I have posed many times is “How would the world look if morality was just a subjective thing?” What can you point to that would be impossible if morality was purely subjective?

    “Unless there is a standard of truth that transcends, and therefore is binding on you, me and others, there is no way to have a rational conversation about anything.”

    Same question, “What would the world look like without this ‘standard of truth’ you appeal to?” What can you point to that would be impossible without this ‘truth’?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  70. Hi Jenna,

    “The atheism I have a problem with, and do not consider valid, is the atheism that denies God’s existence and because of this, unlike your attitude apparently, results in a condemnation of belief in God and simultaneously, a condescending attitude toward believers in God.”

    This is not atheism, though. This is people being rude. And you will find them everywhere.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  71. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were real atheist professors like that, though I’m sure they’re in the minority. For now at least

  72. Near the end of the movie the Christian student made it clear that his issue was moreso with the professors’ anti-theism than it was with his atheism.

  73. Hi Tom,

    Reread it. Found this comment

    “If so, then I believe God has you in his grip and will bring you back to him. ”

    Sounds like you are arguing against free will there.

    But I think my comment

    “Now either God affects us all unknowingly or he doesn’t so the “behind the scenes” reasons you mention are a wash for all of mankind. So the only difference between our actions is that I want to cause no harm to others on my own volition and Christians think there is someone keeping a spiritual tally.”

    accurately represents things. If not, please let me know where.

    Unless you mean I’m wrong about the definition of a Christian. In which case some scripture quotes to clear up the definition would be appreciated.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  74. Shane, you’ve asked me to let you know where your observation fails to represent things accurately. I’ve already addressed that, even before you answered. If I’ve missed on that, it’s your turn, not mine: let me know where.

    Or in other words, if I’ve already presented a thought-through argument, as I did yesterday, I’m not going to respond to someone simply saying, “I still think I’m right, and if not, show me why”—as if that weren’t the point of my last comment.

    If you think I’m not right, show me why. Don’t just repeat that you think you’re right. We already knew that about you.

  75. Shane:

    Goal posts are being moved all the time. Slavery has been disposed of in America because this once acceptable practise has been recognised as abhorrent. Or, I guess, people of different races were finally recognised as real people instead of some type of animal. History shows nothing but moving moral goal posts.

    We then have no reason to believe that you are an honest person, Shane.
    Being honest requires an objective standard.

  76. Jenna at #79,

    I understand you do not believe you worship THAT god described by Dawkins. On the other hand, his description of the character in the OT seems spot on, does it not?

  77. But reasonable people can (and do) disagree about that, Tom. Right?

    Frankly, I see no way to interpret the OT that successfully covers over the reprehensible composite personality that is the OT God. But it is not anti-theism or bigotry to find OT God more than a little flawed. I find Iago flawed, too. Of course, I don’t know of any Iago apologists either.

  78. Whether or not it is anti-theism to find God “flawed,” it is most assuredly anti-Christian to do so. God will judge your judgment of him.

  79. Also no surprise at the indirect threats made for God’s wrath. Russell was right to identify fear as the ultimate basis of religion.

  80. Larry,

    I think it’s pretty normal to fear that we may miss what it really means to live the good life. To fear making poor decisions that diminish our humanity. Or do you not care about those things?

  81. I wouldn’t call them threats, since I would hardly be the one to deliver on them; but I had no intention, Larry, that the warnings would be indirect.

  82. Hi JAD,

    “We then have no reason to believe that you are an honest person, Shane.
    Being honest requires an objective standard.”

    No it does not. It requires making statements that accurately reflect reality.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  83. If God wanted his relationship with mankind to be based on fear then there would be no problems in the world, for he could simply instantly destroy or banish anyone who stepped out of line or control the wrong doers like robots. However that was not His original plan and purpose. He wants mankind, the creatures He made in his image, to respond to him in faith and love– a trusting kind of faith and a genuine uncoerced kind of love.

    Soren Kierkegaard illustrated the dilemma God faces with a parable about a prince, the immediate heir to his father’s glorious kingdom, who falls in love with “a beautiful maiden” he happened to notice one day while passing through the poor section of town. “He could,” writes Kierkegaard, order this girl of common birth “to the palace and there propose marriage. But even a prince would like to feel that the girl he marries wants to marry him.” How does the prince solve this problem? He decides to “give up his kingly role and move into her neighborhood. There he would take up work as, say, a carpenter…” Maybe then he could win her love.
    http://www.michiganquakers.org/a_king_in_disguise.htm

    What Kierkegaard is illustrating here is a picture of the incarnation. The prince, of course, is Jesus the Prince of Peace “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2: 6-8)

    Larry has apparently has never read the New Testament. If he has he certainly hasn’t understood it.

  84. Hi JAD,

    “If God wanted his relationship with mankind to be based on fear then there would be no problems in the world, for he could simply instantly destroy or banish anyone who stepped out of line or control the wrong doers like robots. However that was not His original plan and purpose. He wants mankind, the creatures He made in his image, to respond to him in faith and love– a trusting kind of faith and a genuine uncoerced kind of love.”

    Isn’t that exactly what happened with the Flood?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  85. Hi Tom,

    “If you think I’m not right, show me why. Don’t just repeat that you think you’re right.”

    I wasn’t just repeating that I thought I was right, I was repeating why I thought I was right.

    But I’ll step through the conversation to make it clearer.

    JAD says:
    I am only honest because of God
    Atheists have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

    The difference between JAD and an atheist is a belief in God. Therefore the reason JAD is honest is a belief in God. That follows, correct? I will elucidate further though on your reply, just so you don’t think I’m merely asserting that I am right. Posting them in reverse order because your second point is related more directly to these comments.

    Tom says:
    “Second, you’ve made the mistake of equating because of God with because of belief in God. (See the end of your comment 70.) That’s a common error in discussions on this topic. The Christian view is not that ethics are grounded in religion, belief, or any such thing. The Christian view is that ethics are grounded in God. Motivation may well be based in belief, but ethics themselves are not.

    Take another look at my bullet list here. Two of the items are about my motivation, and they are tied to my belief: if I didn’t believe in his loving sacrifice, I wouldn’t have that motivation to do good. The other items, however, apply whether I believe in him or not. They apply to you, Shane, even though you don’t believe in him. There is such a thing as “good” for humans because God has made it so, even for humans who don’t acknowledge him for who he is.”

    To repeat what JAD said above, the only difference between he and an atheist is a belief in God. So to suggest that any kind of ethics that God might have built into all of mankind makes a difference to whether an atheist and a Christian are honest is irrelevant to JAD’s comments that he is honest as a Christian but would be a liar if he was an atheist. That follows also, correct?

    “First, you’ve made the mistake of equating because of God with because of God’s supervision. But that’s not the primary sense in which I, as a Christian, take the meaning of because of God. There is also because of God’s

    • character, which is the foundation of all reality
    • love, which motivates me to emulate him
    • sacrifice on the Cross, which again motivates me to follow him
    • expressed will, which informs me of how the universe is constituted in its deepest reality
    • creation of humans in his image, by which we know that there is something which humans are meant to be like, and by which we understand that there is a moral design that is good for us to follow
    • … and more, though that’s enough for now.

    So for you to reduce because of God to his supervision alone is to misunderstand Christianity.”

    I wasn’t defining all of Christianity in my post. I was specifically referring to JAD’s comments regarding lying.

    Now I’m assuming you mean points 1, 4 and 5 are inherent to all of us, and so apply to JAD and atheists. We can then dismiss these as reasons to lie (or not) because they apply equally to all of mankind and it is only the things that we believe that can alter the motivations between JAD and someone that doesn’t believe in God. This follows on from his

    Point 2 is about trying to live like Christ, because this is what God wants you to do. Point 3 is about trying to follow Christ because of his sacrifice, and again, because this is what God wants you to do. How are either of these things not bound in God telling you what to do? How can ‘God telling you what to do’ be independent of His supervision? How can we be judged without God’s supervision? In fact how can any life be lived without God’s supervision?

    To repeat JAD is specifically talking about lying in this instance. Breaking the 9th commandment. Now while you can argue that God’s Love and God’s Sacrifice is part of the reason that you don’t lie as a Christian, the main reason is that God expressly forbids it. It is unquestionably a sin. The reason JAD doesn’t lie is unquestionably rooted in the fact that he believes God is supervising his actions and God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.

    So I once again repeat JAD’s position as being

    “The only difference between our actions is that atheists want to cause no harm to others on their own volition and Christians think there is someone keeping a spiritual tally.”

    And I will once again repeat that I don’t think JAD actually believes that.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  86. Shane,

    the main reason is that God expressly forbids it. It is unquestionably a sin. The reason JAD doesn’t lie is unquestionably rooted in the fact that he believes God is supervising his actions and God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.

    No Shane. Your last sentence of this paragraph does not follow. The reason JAD does not lie could be (and I am pretty sure is) because God forbids lying and JAD knows that God commands for JAD’s good. Not to mention again what Tom said about the motivation of love for God. It is not God’s supervision that motivates but our desire to do good, to grow into the goodness that we were created for.

    If you read carefully what JAD originally wrote you would realise that the difference he was pointing out between atheists and Christians is that the only reason atheists have for their actions are their subjective feelings, desires and values at that present time which are always open for revision according to how a person might feel in the moment. It would be nothing to relabel lying as good and honesty as bad because there is nothing outside the self and the selfs desire’s to decide what we should do.

  87. Shane,

    Misquoting will get you nowhere. JAD did not write,

    I am only honest because of God
    Atheists have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

    If he had, then your criticism might be justifiable. But he didn’t write that. He wrote,

    I have honestly given some thought as to how I would treat other people if I were an atheist. The first thing I think I would do is not pretend that my non-belief was some kind of belief… However, maybe not, because that presupposes that I would actually be honest with myself and others, but on atheism we have nothing upon which to ground morality or ethics. Therefore, they have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

    Now, try stepping through the argument again. As you try to explain what he said, try dealing with what he said.

    Okay?

    I mean, I could explain again for you what he said, and how you distorted it, and what it really meant, but I’d like to see you give it a legitimate, honest try yourself, first, with just these few hints.

    First: “The difference between JAD and an atheist is a belief in God. Therefore the reason JAD is honest is a belief in God. That follows, correct?” — Incorrect. The reason it’s incorrect is contained in what he originally said.

    Second: in your reply to me, you’ve remained stuck (as you were previously) on psychological motivations. I specifically explained that this was not the whole story.

    Third, you say

    Now I’m assuming you mean points 1, 4 and 5 are inherent to all of us, and so apply to JAD and atheists. We can then dismiss these as reasons to lie (or not) because they apply equally to all of mankind and it is only the things that we believe that can alter the motivations between JAD and someone that doesn’t believe in God.

    1, 4 and 5 are indeed inherent to all of us if theism is true. JAD was speaking, however, of what would be the case if atheism were true:

    on atheism we have nothing upon which to ground morality or ethics. Therefore [on atheism], they have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

    Those hints should be enough to help you get to the right answer.

  88. Tom,

    I just saw the movie and was very impressed by the message, the plot development and, overall, with the acting. It did a superb job of bringing to the forefront some of the issues believers face as they try to share their faith. I do think there are some stereotypes (e.g., the atheist philosophy professor who must be such simply because he’s highly educated) in the movie, but that’s not, in my opinion, anything new to the movie scene. For instance, how many older men do we see in films who dump their wives for a younger version? How many women are typecast as either blithering idiots or sex objects? And let’s not forget the classic macho man who turns out to be a real idiot when it comes to taking care of his children. The examples are numerous.

    That said, despite the stereotypes present in “God’s Not Dead,” the film offered a superb look into some of the issues Christians face in a nation that has been declared as no longer Christian. As I sat in the movie theatre, I was so moved by the fact that the theatre was completely full and there was a sense of connectedness between us. Throughout the movie, there were instances of spontaneous applause, affirmations that what was happening on the screen was felt in real life, and even many who took out their phones at the end of the movie to text and email the message, “God’s Not Dead,” to some of their contacts. I felt like there was genuine worship taking place in that room and it was quite uplifting and an overall amazing experience. I highly recommend the film to anyone who wants to be intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually challenged.

  89. JAD,

    I appreciate the comment, but I said nothing of OT God’s relationship with people, so you are going off on a tangent. In reality, I echoed Bertrand Russell’s point about religion being based in fear. I think Russell has a point, and Tom’s attempt to scare people with ‘God will judge you’ nonsense illustrates Russell’s idea.

    I also get it when you say I don’t understand the NT. If you review Tom’s earlier comments, any critical statement of the NT or its teachings is for Tom misguided by definition. Nothing I can ever say about the NT will be right, unless perhaps I utter words of praise for it. I suppose he does not mean that every non-negative assessment of the NT or Christianity is right, but you would have to ask Tom.

  90. my ironic statement that movies should never portray uncommon characters is a misrepresentation of your position, you say?

    Indeed. I have to wonder if you don’t want to understand what I’ve written. “Why the necessity to flirt with stereotype… Why this approach”? It doesn’t seem so hard to follow.

    you asked a series of questions

    And I can’t help but note that you didn’t answer any of them. 🙁

  91. “Why this approach?” Easy: I don’t know. Why does any author/composer/screenwriter take the approach they take? Who knows?

    It isn’t up to us to psychologize them for why they did what they did. It’s up to us to interpret what they did.

    (I thought everyone knew that; that’s why I didn’t answer.)

  92. My answers to your series of questions. Again, the answers seem obvious to me, so I took your questions as rhetorical.

    “Why the necessity to flirt with stereotypes (and, again, atheists are hardly the only ones to see stereotypes in the trailer)?”

    Necessity? Who said necessity? My guess is they did it freely and of their own discretion. See my previous comment, and below in this comment.

    “Are you going to contend that a huge portion of the audience won’t be familiar with those urban legends, that they won’t be bringing exactly that to the film?”

    No. I’m not going to contend that. (So what?)

    “I mean, according to you, this movie’s ‘message is strong’. Why this approach, instead of a movie that actually addresses the ‘challenging spiritual atmosphere of the typical college campus’, the “subtle’ ‘anti-Christian pressure’?”

    I don’t know. I haven’t asked them.

    “Which message would be more valuable?”

    Darned if I know. I haven’t run the analysis. It would depend on a whole host of factors, including the interest and quality of the story line.

    But here’s the thing: I don’t have any reason to think the filmmakers based this film on the strategic “value” of their message. Maybe they did a film that expressed something they cared about personally. Maybe they decided to produce a film they liked, that expressed their values, and that they thought audiences would enjoy. That’s kind of the way art works, you know.

    Sometimes art carries a message, too. If the message overwhelms the art, the whole thing dies.

    So if you’re going to ask questions about why they did the movie the way they did, I suggest you ask them, not me, and I suggest you begin by asking about their values, not their strategy.

  93. Now, if you want to conclude from the trailers that the producers have terrible, evil, awful values, that’s your conclusion, not mine, and it’s a conclusion based on incomplete information. I can’t prevent you from doing that, though, so go ahead and do it if you must.

  94. I guess we should ask Ray to remind us whether he has any beliefs about God. I get confused over who has said what over the months. Most atheists say atheism isn’t a belief.

    The professor in the movie, on the other hand, is not that naive. He definitely believes there is no God. That’s the belief that gets challenged in the movie.

  95. But does the professor represent a real person (a real atheist) or is he just a caricature as some atheist critics are contending?

  96. “Amazing. And I thought all Christians followed an authoritarian script that prevented any of us from thinking for ourselves! How could there possibly be any divergence in the script?”

    I would never suggest that Christians are incapable of thinking for themselves, Tom. I wasn’t trying to make any deeper point besides the fact that it’s not just atheists making that particular criticism.

    Atheists are also capable of thinking for themselves, and just because some atheists express some views doesn’t mean that all of us hold them.

  97. Kyle, that’s not my point. Over on another thread I wrote,

    I continue to be amazed at the indignation this movie has caused– indeed, the indignation it was causing even before it was released. But what is there for an atheist to be indignant about? Are we attacking his (or her) beliefs? Absolutely not. I have been told over and over again by many, many internet atheists that ATHEISM IS NOT A BELIEF! I have been told this so many times that they have me convinced that this is honestly what all atheists really believe(?) or think. (And, it does make sense, doesn’t it?) So then, what is there to be upset about? The movie, after all, is just a contrived story, a dramatization, that was created for entertainment and to make the investors some money. None of the characters are real or portray real people, so get over it.
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/03/why-do-so-many-of-us-want-to-see-the-movie-gods-not-dead/#comment-85515

  98. In my view, what’s to be upset about is how little effort we make to understand each other. I don’t know what to do about it, and I’m as much to blame for the state of things as anyone else, so maybe I’ll just take your advice and get over it. We’ll caricature each other and make money and be entertained and that’ll have to do.

  99. Hi Tom,

    “Shane,

    Misquoting will get you nowhere. JAD did not write,

    I am only honest because of God
    Atheists have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.

    If he had, then your criticism might be justifiable. ”

    I am glad you agree that my criticism might be justifiable. The second sentence is copied directly from #69 and I just replace “they” with “atheists” for clarification.

    “Therefore, they have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.”

    The first sentence is extrapolated from #72

    This implies that the only reason you are honest is because of God.

    “Amen to that!”

    So please tell me how I have misrepresented what JAD said.

    Okay?

    “JAD was speaking, however, of what would be the case if atheism were true:

    No he did not. He made no claims about which theory was correct at any point in his posts. He was merely commenting on being a Christian versus being an atheist.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  100. Hi Melissa,

    The reason JAD doesn’t lie is unquestionably rooted in the fact that he believes God is supervising his actions and God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.

    “No Shane. Your last sentence of this paragraph does not follow.”

    Is my last sentence incorrect? Does God not supervise? Does God want JAD to not sin? And I don’t think you should be putting words in his mouth, but aren’t we all pretty sure that JAD knows this?

    “It is not God’s supervision that motivates but our desire to do good, to grow into the goodness that we were created for.”

    You’re doing that for God, correct? You’re doing it because God wants you to? You haven’t decided for yourself what is good and what you should be doing?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  101. Shane,

    This is just nuts. You are insistent that “The reason JAD doesn’t lie is unquestionably rooted in the fact that he believes God is supervising his actions and God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.”

    This conclusion follows if and only if it

    a. JAD believes God is supervising.
    b. JAD believes God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.
    c. JAD believes that God will punish JAD for sinning.
    d. These constitute JAD’s only reasons not to lie. JAD has absolutely no other reason whatsoever, and God provides absolutely no other reason whatsoever, and God’s relationship with his creation provides absolutely no other reason whatsoever, for JAD not to lie.

    Is there anything that’s unclear about the need for premise d. in that list?

    Is there anything that’s been unclear about our repeated explanations that there are other other reasons besides a, b, c, for JAD not to lie?

    You’re also insistent that “because of God” is equivalent to “because of God’s supervision.” That’s not what JAD has said, and it’s just obviously not true. “Because of God” is not equivalent to “because of God’s supervision,” any more than, “Because of Mom and Dad” is equivalent to, “Because of Mom and Dad’s supervision.” (What was the cause of your birth? Mom and Dad’s supervision?)

  102. This is seriously wrong, too:

    “JAD was speaking, however, of what would be the case if atheism were true:”

    No he did not. He made no claims about which theory was correct at any point in his posts. He was merely commenting on being a Christian versus being an atheist.

    Do you not know what “on atheism” (#70) means? It means, “supposing that atheism is true, for the purpose of argument,” or “If atheism is true.”

    That’s what “on atheism” means. He was speaking of what would be the case if atheism were true.

    If you didn’t know that was what “on atheism” meant, then I could understand how this aspect of the discussion of the discussion has gone haywire. If you doubt that this was what JAD meant, now would be a good time for you to ask him.

  103. Shane,

    You’re doing that for God, correct? You’re doing it because God wants you to? You haven’t decided for yourself what is good and what you should be doing?

    So, do you think it would be praiseworthy to decide that white was black. No, as a Christian I determine what is good and what I should be doing by way of reasoning according to the facts. I aim to align my desires and actions with reality, not the other way round.

  104. Tom:

    Do you not know what “on atheism” (#70) means? It means, “supposing that atheism is true, for the purpose of argument,” or “If atheism is true.”

    Yes, that is what I meant. (Do I really need to explain that?) It appears to me that Shane is being intentionally daft.

  105. JAD –

    Why are you concerned about this, Ray? Whose beliefs are being attacked?

    Well, I think it’s actually people who are being attacked (“Every non-Christian character in the film is amoral, disrespectful, and vicious.”), and their beliefs misrepresented (“Given these somewhat basic and flawed arguments, they would not be at all convincing to an informed opponent, and no atheist of Professor Radisson’s supposed caliber would be unfamiliar with them.”) (quotes from the reviews Sault pointed out).

    From the review Tom pointed out today, “If you’re seeking affirmation of your own personal walk of faith, God’s Not Dead is a must see film!” If the affirmation depends on misrepresenting one’s opponents, then it’s a pretty weak affirmation.

  106. Maybe they did a film that expressed something they cared about personally. Maybe they decided to produce a film they liked, that expressed their values, and that they thought audiences would enjoy. That’s kind of the way art works, you know.

    Of course, the point has been that “God’s Not Dead” does not strike a lot of people, including many Christians, as being good art. As Jenna Black said a ways back, it’s important “whether or not the characters come off as authentic people.” Based on the reviews (as I just noted to JAD) it looks like they didn’t manage that. I kind of hoped my questions might lead you to address that. Oh, well.

  107. Tom@35:
    “Do you realize how strange a question that is? It’s a movie, Ray!”

    A movie that you described as, “…Dealing with the Reality On Campus.”

    “Don’t you realize that it’s not unusual to address a common problem by focusing on a magnified version of it?”

    Your review said that it was not common and that it was real. Why would you write that if you know that it is magnified?

    “Don’t you realize that if some magnified version has only happened once, it might still be portrayed on screen?”

    Has any professor ever issued such a requirement as the one in the movie?

    “Don’t you realize that situations paralleling the magnified version have happened more than once?”

    How parallel? And if you now say it’s “magnified,” how does that relate to your claim that the movie reflects “…Dealing with the Reality On Campus.”

    “Don’t you realize your question here sounds like you’re trying really, really, really hard to find something to complain about in this film?”

    You said in your review that it was not common, while you say here that it is common. You title your review “…Dealing with the Reality On Campus,” and write “there isn’t a hint of it being contrived,” but here you more carefully qualify your claim that it is “magnified.”

    Which is it?

  108. Dutch, no, I did not describe the movie as “dealing with the reality on campus.” (You can’t parse an article’s argument from a sentence-fragment headline.) I mentioned the movie, described it in part, and then described how it relates to the (separately described) reality on campus.

    “Your review said that it was not common and that it was real. Why would you write that if you know that it is magnified?”

    You use the pronoun “it” three times here. The “it” that I said was real was not identical to the “it” that “was not common,” nor was it identical with the “it” that was magnified. Would you like me to spell that all out in detail?

    Has any professor issued such a requirement as the one in the movie? Yes, or near enough to it. I have been able to confirm those details through friends at Ravi Zacharias’s ministry. Ravi kept the details confidential for his own reasons, but I do know who it was, and it was a real person with a real name and a real experience.

    The rest of your comment’s questions could be clarified if you would be more careful about which “it” is which. Thank you.

  109. Hi Tom,
    #125

    “Shane,

    This is just nuts. You are insistent that “The reason JAD doesn’t lie is unquestionably rooted in the fact that he believes God is supervising his actions and God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.”

    This conclusion follows if and only if it

    a. JAD believes God is supervising.
    b. JAD believes God does not want JAD to deliberately sin.
    c. JAD believes that God will punish JAD for sinning.
    d. These constitute JAD’s only reasons not to lie. JAD has absolutely no other reason whatsoever, and God provides absolutely no other reason whatsoever, and God’s relationship with his creation provides absolutely no other reason whatsoever, for JAD not to lie.

    Is there anything that’s unclear about the need for premise d. in that list?”

    a. and b. come immediately from my sentence and are the only things necessary. Can you tell me that a. and/or b. are not correct?

    c. is a specific that you arbitrarily added? JAD made no specific mention of it and neither did I. And if you were going to add that ‘stick’, why not add the ‘carrot’ of

    c1. JAD believes that God will be pleased if he chooses not to sin.

    There are plenty of other motivations related to God. You yourself mentioned heaps of them. That’s not the question. The question is that JAD is asserting there can be no motivation to not lie that are not related to God. That is what is nuts. An analogy:

    My eldest daughter is a maths teacher. She gives out a work sheet of problems for the kids to work on in class. The reasons the kids work on the problems:

    a. To not get in trouble with the teacher.
    b. To please, and earn praise from, the teacher.
    c. For the joy of learning.
    d. The feeling of accomplishment.
    e. To better themselves and prepare for their future.
    f. To work quietly in the class and not disrupt the other students.

    JAD’s assertion that he is honest solely because of God means that reasons a and b here are the only ones he values. And an atheist shouldn’t value any of the things in that list, because c through f are only important as they relate to a and b.

    “You’re also insistent that “because of God” is equivalent to “because of God’s supervision.” That’s not what JAD has said, and it’s just obviously not true. “Because of God” is not equivalent to “because of God’s supervision,” any more than, “Because of Mom and Dad” is equivalent to, “Because of Mom and Dad’s supervision.” (What was the cause of your birth? Mom and Dad’s supervision?)”

    You think mum and dad did not supervise my conception? And that is a physical process in the real world, that does not relate in the same way God affects you making choices. Not to mention parents are an imperfect analogy because they cannot supervise us 24/7 in the way God can and does. I can chose to do or not do things because of what my parents might think if they knew of my actions. But God always knows our choices. That’s why He is God. There is nothing we do that He does not see.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  110. Tom
    #126

    “Do you not know what “on atheism” (#70) means? It means, “supposing that atheism is true, for the purpose of argument,” or “If atheism is true.”

    JAD
    #128

    “Yes, that is what I meant. (Do I really need to explain that?) It appears to me that Shane is being intentionally daft.”

    With respect atheism is a lack of belief in God. To claim it as true is to misunderstand it as a claim that there is no God. I know how this riles everyone up here but it’s the fact of the matter. So “on atheism” is true for everyone that lacks that belief. It is true for me right now.

    If what you meant to say was “if God didn’t exist” why doesn’t your original comment at #69 start with

    “I have honestly given some thought as to how I would treat other people if there was no God.”

    The full paragraph is

    “I have honestly given some thought as to how I would treat other people if I were an atheist. The first thing I think I would do is not pretend that my non-belief was some kind of belief… However, maybe not, because that presupposes that I would actually be honest with myself and others, but on atheism we have nothing upon which to ground morality or ethics. Therefore, they have no reason to be honest with either them self or anyone else.”

    This does not read like someone trying to compare a world with God to a world without God. It reads like someone comparing a belief in God to a lack of belief in God.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  111. Hi Melissa,

    “… as a Christian I determine what is good and what I should be doing by way of reasoning according to the facts.”

    So do atheists. Although I think we’re going to disagree on what the facts are. Or at the very least where they came from.

    But this is my point on the motivation. There are reasons to be honest that are not derived from God. It is highlighted in the posts above.

    Thanks
    Shane

  112. Shane,

    I give up. You can declare yourself the winner if you like.

    Be assured, however, that I’m not giving up because I think you’ve won. I’m giving up because I think there’s no hope of making progress with you.

  113. Shane,

    So do atheists. Although I think we’re going to disagree on what the facts are. Or at the very least where they came from.

    But this is my point on the motivation. There are reasons to be honest that are not derived from God. It is highlighted in the posts above.

    The sentence after the one you quoted should give you a clue about where our differences lie. If you want to grapple with that then it may be worth continuing the discussion although your final sentence does highlight a particular misunderstanding you have of what JAD originally wrote. Motivations are not the same thing as reasons in the sense that JAD was referring to which also touched on my point of wanting to align our desires and purposes with reality not the other way round.

  114. Tom@35:
    “Dutch, no, I did not describe the movie as “dealing with the reality on campus.” (You can’t parse an article’s argument from a sentence-fragment headline.)”

    You titled your review of the movie as “dealing with the reality on campus.” Has there ever been a real case with the course requirement at the center of this movie?

    “I mentioned the movie, described it in part, and then described how it relates to the (separately described) reality on campus.”

    You also wrote that “there isn’t a hint of it being contrived,” did you not?

    Me: “Your review said that it was not common and that it was real. Why would you write that if you know that it is magnified?”

    “You use the pronoun “it” three times here. The “it” that I said was real was not identical to the “it” that “was not common,” nor was it identical with the “it” that was magnified. Would you like me to spell that all out in detail?”

    Yes. Let me revise:
    Your review said that the premise was not common and your title claimed that the movie dealt with the reality on campus. Why would you put “reality” in the title and claim “there isn’t a hint of it being contrived,” if you know that the situation was “magnified”?

    P.S. I would describe the course requirement as pure fiction.

    “Has any professor issued such a requirement as the one in the movie? Yes, or near enough to it.”

    What was the requirement then?

    “I have been able to confirm those details through friends at Ravi Zacharias’s ministry.”

    What details? What was the specific course requirement?

    “Ravi kept the details confidential for his own reasons, but I do know who it was, and it was a real person with a real name and a real experience.”

    What was the requirement? None was mentioned at your link.

    In an age when everyone has a video camera, is hearsay good enough?

  115. Dutch, every one of your main questions is answered in the BreakPoint article. Not in its headline, but in the actual article.

    I can’t violate Ravi Zacharias’s decisions regarding points of discretion, and I will not do so. There are other examples in the BreakPoint article. If you don’t think the movie represents anything remotely resembling reality, then you are free to draw your own conclusions. I could hardly stop you from doing so anyway.

  116. “I can’t violate Ravi Zacharias’s decisions regarding points of discretion, and I will not do so.”

    What are you going on about? I asked only for the specific course requirement that would make it parallel to the fantasy villainy presented in the film. I didn’t ask for who or where. How could that be a violation?

    “There are other examples in the BreakPoint article.”

    There are zero examples in your article of a professor demanding that a student renounce his religion in writing as a course requirement. None of the “examples” come close to something as offensive as that, which means that the central plot of the movie is indeed contrived, not merely magnified.

    “If you don’t think the movie represents anything remotely resembling reality, then you are free to draw your own conclusions.”

    Thanks. Do YOU think there are any cases of a student recruiting an atheist philosophy professor to Christianity via his classroom presentation in the real world?

    Oh, and you do claim that the film reflects reality in the text as well as the title.

  117. Hi Melissa,

    Motivations are not the same thing as reasons in the sense that JAD was referring to which also touched on my point of wanting to align our desires and purposes with reality not the other way round.”

    I would be interested in hearing more on this if you want to explain further.

    Cheers
    Shane

  118. Hi Tom,

    “Shane,

    I give up. You can declare yourself the winner if you like.

    Be assured, however, that I’m not giving up because I think you’ve won. I’m giving up because I think there’s no hope of making progress with you.”

    With the utmost respect, this wasn’t even your conversation. I was talking to JAD about clarifying his thoughts when you jumped in. Now I don’t mind in the slightest that you and Melissa want to try and help him out but it’s a mistake on your part to think that now you’re opting out the conversation is over. Not that I think JAD will be replying either, but having you declare yourself the winner, give yourself the last word and say that the conversation is going nowhere is to miss the point that you invited yourself into this ‘dialogue’.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  119. What are you going on about? I asked only for the specific course requirement that would make it parallel to the fantasy villainy presented in the film. I didn’t ask for who or where. How could that be a violation?

    The fill is not billed as a historical account. Rather, it’s a work of fiction and like all fiction it may have parallels with reality.

    I don’t suppose that there is any specific course requirement to deny the existence of God – at least in the US – and this would go to explaining why no one here has made such a claim. However, if you are looking for a parallel between the fantasy villainy that you mentioned and reality then all you had to do was read Tom’s comment and note the link. But I suppose that you intention is not to fact find, it’s to raise the bar and dismiss everything below it.

    That you don’t mention the obvious (i.e. the Ravi Zacharias podcast) and instead dismissively ask “What are you going on about? ” makes me think that this isn’t a profitable conversation for anyone to pursue.

  120. Shane @ #143,

    How can we have an honest discussion about anything if you don’t adhere to an objective standard of honesty? Sorry, it is pointless for me to continue the conversation about this or anything else.

    PS This is Tom’s blog not mine; he can butt in any time he wants.

  121. Hi JAD,

    The objective standard of honesty I adhere to is “Are the statements made factual and accurate?” What else are you looking for?

    If you don’t want to carry on the conversation, just don’t. But don’t try and make the problem mine. If you find it pointless to engage atheists because you can’t trust them to be honest, perhaps you should restrain yourself from attacking their character.

    And I am well aware that this is Tom’s blog and I welcome his comments, always. But I was asking specifically about your thoughts because you made the comment. Tom cannot be an authority about what you think. He can only be an authority on what he thinks you should think, and quite frankly that is disturbing. Having him, and Melissa, jump into to clarify what you believe makes it seem like they don’t trust you to speak for yourself but you should feel free to post “Yes, that’s what I meant.” and if you can throw in another dig about how dumb I am, that might get me to stop asking questions.

    It won’t JAD. I’m here for the answers to my questions.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  122. Shane,

    I would be interested in hearing more on this if you want to explain further.

    For the atheist thinking about what you should do begins and ends with your felt goals, desires and feelings. Good really just means does it help me achieve my goals. That is not to say that the atheist is necessarily selfish as they might have a desire to be unselfish, but the desire to be selfish or unselfish cannot be deemed right or wrong unless it is in reference to other felt desires and goals. If the atheists strongest felt desire or goal involves being selfish then what possible reason could he have for not being selfish.

    The theist on the other hand knows that we have objective goals and sometimes our desires do not line up with them. So the development of good character always involves the aligning of our desires to what is objectively good for us.

  123. Re#132 “Has any professor issued such a requirement as the one in the movie? Yes, or near enough to it.” Well that that is “near enough” for you just about kills your credibility for me.